The Browns' bout with the Raiders in Oakland this weekend pits Hue Jackson's current team against a former one.
Cleveland's third-year coach returns to the Oakland Alameda-County Coliseum on Sunday, where he paced the sidelines for a season as the Raiders' top boss in 2011.
Though grateful to late owner Al Davis — who gave him his first head-coaching job — Jackson shrugged off that storyline as just another game on the schedule.
"It's a football game between the Browns and the Raiders. We're going to do everything that we can to go win the game. I have no other feelings than that," he said Wednesday.
"If anything, I would like to thank Al Davis for the opportunity that he gave me. Al Davis is somebody who's very important in my life and my ability to be where I am today. I thank Al for that and for the organization for the opportunity, but they're no different than any other team that we play. We have to get ourselves ready to play and go get a victory."
Indeed, the Browns can move to 2-1-1 following their Thursday night's win over the Jets, their first since 2016.
— Jackson and Raiders coach Jon Gruden go way back. The two worked together at the University of Pacific and were once office-mates before rising up the coaching ranks. "He taught me football. We used to argue every day. I know him extremely well," Jackson said with a smile. "He's extremely competitive and he doesn't like losing, no more than I didn't like losing."
After an 0-3 start, Jackson said Oakland will be fired up this weekend. "Trust me, he's going to get his football team ready to go," he said. "We have to be ready to play."
— Better known as the Black Hole, the Oakland Coliseum is one of the league's rowdier stadiums and its field is home for both the Raiders and MLB's Oakland Athletics. It's quite literally a baseball field, Jackson said, and because of that, the Browns will hold their Saturday walkthrough at the stadium.
"You better know the dirt. You can slip if you have not been on it before. You do not want the first third down to be a receiver running a route and he slips down because he does not know how to get his feet in the ground the right way," he said. "I think that all of those things are important. I think that managing that is one of my jobs with the football team."
— Tyrod Taylor remains in the league's concussion protocol, but Jackson expects the veteran quarterback to suit up this Sunday. "I think we're really on the back end of it. I think that there really is improvement," he said. "I think that we will know more tomorrow, for sure. I still feel good that he will be able to participate this weekend." Taylor suffered the injury in the first half of Thursday's win over the Jets. He will back up rookie Baker Mayfield, who was named the starting quarterback Monday.
— The Raiders traded away star edge defender Khalil Mack a week before the season opener, which is good news for Joel Bitonio and the Browns offensive line.
"They have some good players, but he's one of the best in the league," he said, "and to not have to go against him as an offense – it's a big game-planning nightmare when you have to play against that guy." Mack, now a thriving member of the Chicago Bears, was the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
— Larry Ogunjobi has been a force on the interior defensive line for the Browns in his first year as a full-time starter. Ogunjobi, who stepped into that role after Cleveland traded away former first-round pick Danny Shelton to the Patriots in the spring, has 18 tackles and three sacks in three games.
"I thought the opportunity was there, but it was still my choice to go after it take it," he said. "I knew nothing would be given to me. So I had to make sure I earned the position."
— Before signing with the Browns in free agency this past spring, cornerback and Bay Area native T.J. Carrie spent his first four seasons with the Raiders. Returning to Oakland, he said, will be an emotional experience.
"Going back to home, where all of the family is. I have a number of ticket requests that are going out." he said. "Definitely a lot of people want to come out and support. Just going in there and being on the opposite side is going to be different."
Carrie started 16 games for the Raiders last season and plays a key role on Cleveland's defensive secondary.
— At 32 years old, Marshawn Lynch is still "Beast Mode" as far as the Browns are concerned.
"He still got it," defensive end Chris Smith said. "He's the guy that, you can't hit him up high. From watching film, when guys try to hit him up high and stuff like that, they just bounce right off of them. And I feel like that is the main thing is stopping 24, because he still got it. He hasn't not lost a step."
Indeed, Lynch — who enters his 12th NFL season — has 48 carries for 170 yards and three touchdowns.